Thursday, March 14, 2013

LPC Triathlon Training Camp - Day 5: A bike milestone!

Another day without blood!

Yes - I managed to stay upright, which was a wonderful testament to my growing bike skills. Okay, truth be told I had a couple of very close calls, including a bit of a stumble into some grass - but no actual falls.

Today was another great day at camp. Although I am starting to get a bit tired, so I am afraid these blogs are becoming more of a laundry list of what I did, without enough fun commentary. If so, I am sorry in advance.

I promise I'll do a retrospective next week sometime looking overall at what I learned and what I got out of this week.

But seriously, today we went to the Lazy River at Orange Lake Resort again - which I loved on Sunday and loved even more today. I graduated (not literally) to the slightly more advanced group (i.e., I was doing the longer swimming distances - 1 loop intervals instead of half loop ones, etc.). It felt nice to be good at something!

After some triathlon specific exercises (the main one I want to remember since I already knew the rest of the exercises, involves a band that you pull sideways - similar to something Trainer Chris has had me do a few times).

Once we finished the exercises, we did a two loop warm-up of the 350 meter lazy river. I admit, it was nice getting in the pool since the air temperature was quite chilly.

The main workout involved three descending interval loops, where each loop was faster than the one before. I think I actually managed to do them properly, which was kind of amazing. Once we finished the intervals, we swam against the current for a loop, which was odd, but fun. I quite liked this swim because I was feeling more comfortable and confident and got to keep practicing the sighting drills Coach Jeff taught us a few days ago. We did another half-a-loop as a cool down.

After the swim (and a good soak in the Jacuzzi), I had to head home to take an important work phone call. While doing so, I tried to mow down some food to prep for the long bike ride. I ate a bizarre mix of Cliff Blocks, a Honey Stinger Waffle, a banana, and a granola bar. It did the trick, even if it wasn't really a meal per se.

The bike was something else. I started off at a pretty even pace. We got to ride some nice bike paths for much of the way, which was wonderful -- although the stop signs were not. I did get a lot of practice clipping in and clipping out though. I had some good conversations with a few of the other girls for at least the first hour. About that point, our group (the shorter distance group) stopped to divide. A few turned around and went back to the Irish Pub where we started from (a great two-hour ride) while the rest agreed to carry on to Sugarloaf.

Here's the thing. I thought seriously about turning back - not facing the big climb or doing the three or more hour ride and doing the two instead. It would have been easy and I am sure no one would have thought badly of me for choosing to go the shorter route. I'm still a newbie biker after all.

But the truth is, there was no way I was actually going to do that unless it was "highly recommended" by the coaches... and since it wasn't - I decided to forge ahead with the folks wanting to ride the full distance...which meant going ahead with the infamous Sugarloaf climb. After all, I need all the practice I can get - and camp is the best place to get it.

It's a good thing I had no idea how many hills would be coming before Sugarloaf when I made the decision to forge ahead. But, such is my lot - when I decide to do something, I go for it. Was I fast? Not at all. Did I keep up -- actually not too badly. I was behind, but this was more of an endurance ride, so I found I often had one or two others for company. Not always - but a fair bit. And Coach Nissim was almost always there keeping the mood cheerful and giving me practical lessons (like telling me to clip in and out 10 times with each leg while moving).

The hills were something else. I've never done hills on a ride before (outside of spin class fake hills), but I just geared down (yes, I've learned how to shift gears while moving!) and ploughed my way up. We went up a bunch of hills and down a bunch of hills, which was kind of fun actually. I loved going downhill...even if I had to brake a fair bit because I was nervous going too fast. If my watch is right, I hit 55k at one point on a downhill.

And then I got to the top of this seemingly long hill....only to find out I'd made it to the top of Sugarloaf: the hill I'd been hearing about all week as the "crazy hill in the middle of the long bike ride." ... I was like, "That was it? Oh, Okay."

It was hard, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Which was great.

At the top of the climb, there is a house that leaves out a jug of water for anyone to enjoy (for a donation to the Wounded Warrior's project). Apparently they've been doing this for 20 years or more. I can tell you - water never tasted so good! After some great pictures (see below), we headed back a different (and much less hilly)  way.

Picture 1: Me at the Top of Sugarloaf

Picture 2: Our Bike Group at the Top of Sugarloaf

We stopped at a convenience store on the way back where I downed a Coke (which tasted great) and another pack of Cliff Blocks. We then headed back to the Irish Pub where we'd started from (and where the earlier group waited for us - and we then waited for the 100k group.

The final tally was approximately 66-70 kilometers (the longest distance I've ever biked) about 3 hours and 20 minutes of riding time. Too bad I kept forgetting to start my watch or I'd know for sure.

All in all, I was thrilled with this ride. I managed the distance really well I think, especially given the hills (another first!). My bike handling has also gotten a bit better - which gives me a lot of hope since it has only been five days.

Really, I only have positive things to say about today. Sure, it was challenging -- but it felt great to know that I could do it.

After the ride, we went to the Irish Pub where we'd left from and I had a very well deserved beer and some French fries. They were delicious.

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